For the second time in a week, Portland firefighters were stymied by home clutter, the Fire Bureau announced today. An unnamed man in his 50s died during an attempted rescue this morning in Northeast Portland after "some of [his] home's excessive contents fell on him," the bureau announcement says.
The death prompted the bureau to ask people to encourage compulsive hoarders they may know to seek mental health treatment.
The bureau's account follows:
This morning, Portland firefighters responded to a residential fire in NE Portland. While searching the home, firefighters encountered heat and zero visibility due to the smoke. They performed a systematic search of the rooms but were hampered in their search by an excessive amount of contents in the home. Firefighters located a victim in his bed in one of the bedrooms. They took the victim to the floor ready to rescue him when some of the home's excessive contents fell on him. Firefighters had to uncover the man to find him and eventually evacuate. Sadly, firefighter/paramedics determined that the man in his 50's had died.
This is the second fire this week in Portland where excessive contents in the home have hampered firefighters’ ability to contain the blaze. Although it's uncomfortable to talk about, hoarding can indicate a mental health disorder - one that affects between 6 and 15 million Americans. 75 U.S.cities have community task forces specifically designed to help address the issue.
Portland Fire & Rescue wants citizens to understand that hoarding is both a personal and public safety issue. If you or someone you know may have an issue with excessive accumulation of contents in your home, please visit http://www.ocfoundation.org/hoarding for additional information and resources. A fact sheet on hoarding can be accessed here.